By the way, this book is 100% real: Rapper Mac Lethal on his new Texts From Bennett novel

Mac+Lethal
Mac Lethal is a rapper too, by the way.

Two years ago, an ingeniously simple Tumblr featuring the copy-and-pasted text messages of a “17-year-old white boy who thinks he’s a Crip, works at Amoco, has a girlfriend named Mercedes, and is one of the most unintentionally funny and brilliant souls on the planet” almost broke the Internet, so rapid and immense was its popularity and reach.

If you don’t know what we’re talking about, we can only assume you were hanging out under a very large rock during late 2011, because Texts From Bennett just might be one of the defining Internet memes of our time.

The Tumblr, which instantly whipped the world wide web into a frenzy of delight, horror and speculation as to whether or not Bennett was a fake, turned out to be the creation of Kansas City rapper Mac Lethal (aka David Shelton) who felt that his wannabe gangster cousin Bennett’s loveably crass and mostly inane texts were too good not to share with the world. Now, Lethal has turned the popular Tumblr into a novel. We checked in with the rapper/author in between stops on his “Texts From Bennett Tour,” during which he’ll be signing copies of the new book and performing live.

When you first started Texts From Bennett, did you have any idea it was going to be such an insane phenomenon?

I had no idea it would be this huge. The world wasn’t ready for a 17-year-old Crip with the inability to speak coherent English.

How did you get the idea to start the Tumblr?

I needed a place to collect the screenshots because my phones kept breaking and losing them all, so I started it with no intention of it ever being big.

People seemed really pissed — like weirdly pissed — when they found out that you were a rapper and Bennett’s veracity came into question…

People get more upset and impassioned about Texts From Bennett than they do about me bashing religion, making political statements, etc. It’s really annoying to see how lame and pointless some people’s lives are. It’s a wannabe gangster with a stuffed bunny rabbit. Is it that serious?

So you really don’t even embellish his texts at all to make them funnier?

I don’t know how I could? I don’t know how to text message myself.

Then, the most obvious question is, how is it that Bennett didn’t come across the Tumblr right away?

People like Bennett (there’s a lot of them) don’t have access to the Internet. Bennett goes outside and is social with people. Which is strangely ironic considering all the detractors of the blog just sit around drinking Mountain Dew floats all day, playing Call of Duty.

He must know about it by now, though. How did he react when he first found out?

He just wanted to know if he could get cute girls with “big titties” because of his newfound fame.

And he keeps texting you these crazy things, after all this time…

At this point I have to weed out any of the ones that seem like he’s putting on a show. I still catch him off guard here and there, though.

What’s the book about — is it just a collection of his texts or is it more of a narrative?

It’s a single narrative about Bennett and his mom, my Aunt Lillian, coming to live with me for a summer.

What’s Bennett like in real life?

Gentle. Tattooed. Surprisingly supportive in all aspects of life. He’s the type of kid who would rather come along for the ride to something you were doing, and be happy for your good experience, than try to impose his own experiences on you. He has a big heart… just misled.

Do you think this exposure has helped your music career or hurt it?

I don’t know, in 2013 it’s hard to gauge if careers can be helped or hurt. Most of them exist, have peaks and valleys, become hot, become cold, become hot again. Miley Cyrus is the hottest thing in the world right now, but we can’t say that it’s necessarily helping her. ZZ Ward was this huge, promising female vocalist a year ago, and is nowhere to be found now, according to my friends who listen to her. So I try not to focus on reputation or keeping track of my blemishes. Some stuff works, some stuff doesn’t. All I know is since 2002 I have never had a year that wasn’t more eventful than the one before it. So it’s all been good.

How has it changed your life, in general?

Not trying to be a greaseball, but I’ll save this for the book. Because the answer is in it.

What are you prouder of, the sensation that was Texts From Bennett or the sensation that was your “Pancake Rap” video?

Both were amazing. But I’m most proud of how they blew up at the exact same time and were massive. That’s unheard of.

At this point, would you say that people recognize you more for Bennett or for your music?

It’s hard to say. Fans of my music are connected on a much deeper level than fans of Texts From Bennett. So, they make themselves known and communicate with me and latch onto the songs I write because it enables them to process pain. Texts From Bennett is more for fun than anything else.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Annual Green Festival to take root in NYC

With the arrival of Earth Week, some 200 local participating companies, vendors and nonprofits are gearing up for New York City's annual Green Festival, set…

Local

10 green ideas for New York City this…

This Earth Day, pundits share their ideas to better green New York City.

Local

Carriage horse activists picket Liam Neeson's UWS home

Several dozen picketers lined the sidewalk outside of Liam Neeson's Upper West Side apartment building on Saturday to protest the actor's support of the New…

Local

Former cop shoots wife in front of children…

Former cop Kevin Canty, 43, was arrested over the weekend after police say he shot and killed his wife in their Ozone Park home.

Music

Loop are, er, um, back in the loop

Experimental noise rock band Loop's three mid-1980s to early-1990s albums, “Heavens End,” “Fade Out” and “A Gilded Eternity,” were mercifully reissued.

Television

'Orphan Black' recap: Episode 1, ‘Nature Under Constraint…

Welcome to your first Season 2 “Orphan Black” recap! Hopefully Tatiana Maslany can help Tatiana Maslany get through this, with the help of Tatiana Maslany,…

Books

Poems from prison: 'How to Survive a Bullet…

Celebrate National Poetry Month with, "'How to Survive a Bullet to the Heart."

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

NHL

Rangers blow two-goal lead in Game 2 loss…

The Rangers got out to an early 2-0 lead in Game 2 and the Garden was rocking. But it went downhill quickly from there.

NBA

Deron Williams leads Nets over Raptors in Game…

The Nets traveled to a raucous Air Canada Centre but came out with an important Game 1 victory over the Raptors.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.